Braving the Rapids of Hells Canyon Part 1

Categories:#HellHikeAndRaft | Life | Trail Stories | Trips

DSC_0119I awoke to what sounded like a bear crashing through the tall grass. I was cowboy camping so I did not have the protection of my tent. I understand that the protection the tent would have had against a bear is all in my head but hey it is protection none the less. Out of instinct I grabbed my trekking poles that I had placed next to my sleeping pad in the event I needed to use them as some time of deterrent.  I guess that if I was going to fight a bear i might as well have my trusty Leki sabers to swing. To my surprise it was not a bear instead it was Trevor waking up and walking towards the main part of camp.  I was excited to get up and get moving because we were white water rafting today but I also get to learn more about Wendy and Trevor and get to know them.

A quick funny side story about Trevor. The night before I was headed from my camp spot to the main part of camp. I had  grabbed a coat and my headlamp in preparation for the evening and passed Trevor. He said that he was headed to go get something and would be back soon. I said ok and did not think much about it. A long while later some time after dinner we begun to wonder where he had gone. A hunting party set off and found him passed out in the weeds next to his stuff. We found out a little later that he had partaken of a few libations before the hikers had gotten there since he rode in with Parker, Becky, and Wendy on the boats.  We would also find out that Trevor intended to just go take a quick nap but instead missed dinner and slept through the entire night.

I began packing up my gear put everything into the wet bags and hauled it down to the river. The sun was just starting to show on the far side of the canyon.  A breakfast buffet was being prepared. I grabbed some coffee and sat down at the table to enjoy the view. Several of the earlier risers were already up we chatted while waiting for the rest of the crew to rise and breakfast to be ready. The tensions where not as high as they had been mostly due to the fact that we would not be hiking anymore and the work we would be doing would be hard but not as strenuous as the previous few days.

After breakfast we all headed down a trail next to the river that would lead us to an overlook that gave us an amazing view of our first rapid.  Between camp and the overlook Becky showed us some very neat petroglyphs. The whole crew sat and marveled at the rapid that we were set to tackle. Each person taking it all in, in their own way. Val, Scott, and Myself volunteered to stay behind and photograph and record the rest of the crew as they braved the first rapid of the adventure. It was fun to see the crew who only a few days earlier had never met work cohesively together to conquer the obstacle.


Photo by Val

Photo by Val

Photo by Val at

Val, Scott and myself headed back to where camp had been and climbed on the gear boat. The gear boat pilot for the morning was rick. We were finally on the Snake River. The moment was exciting but calming at the same time. For me rivers can be extremely violent and dangerous but at the same time very calming and soothing.  Rick attacked the rapid in calm but aggressive manner. You could tell that he felt very comfortable in the situation but still had a great respect and fear of the river. Through the rapid we went and came out safe and all in the boat on the other side.

That was going to be biggest rapid before we pulled off for lunch. The other boats had pulled into an eddy to wait for us to come through to ensure that everyone made it through. Parker was on the paddle boat with the rest of the crew as their pilot. In one very quick movement I saw Rick hop out of his seat jump out of the gear boat tackling parker on the paddle boat causing them both to fall out. This set the tone of the trip. Serious attitudes while navigating near and through rapids but all fun and games in the calmer waters.

Parker and Rick switched boats and our new pilot Parker was quickly inducted into the heckling and jackassery that would be quickly named the three amigos. I am sure there are other names for us out there but every boat has to have its peanut gallery right?  Parker without skipping any beats joined in and returned fire. We would learn the history of the Snake river and its banks deep within Hells Canyon.

We hit several other smaller rapids and before you knew it we were pulling over for lunch. We had managed to put several miles behind us by this time. While Parker and Becky unpacked and prepared lunch Rick lead the crew up to a an old cabin. Inside it was decorated with old newspapers and old newspaper ads. It had a small living area and kitchen area with stove. It also had a loft for sleeping. Like many of the homesteads along the Snake this particular one was built next to a creek flowing into the snake and was the lodging for ranchers and cowboys that were charged with herding and watching over their flock of sheep or herds of cattle.  Heading back to the lunch spot I stopped on this lovely flat plateau that overlooked the river. As I stood there filming some scenery footage I watched as several jet boats powered up the river.  A delicious lunch was enjoyed, the sun was soaked up and we took in the entire experience.  There is just something about a river that can truly calm a persons soul.

We hopped back on the boats to put in a few miles and find our camp for the evening. All along the river there are designated camping areas and they are on a first come first serve basis. We hauled down the river and secured Sheep Creek.


Tent Location for the night at Sheep Creek!

In order to keep this post from getting even longer I am going to continue the events of Sheep Creek Camp in my next post.

Happy Trails.

 Read about the entire Adventure by following these links:

Day 1 – #HellHikeAndRaft Hiking into the shadow of the Devil Part 1.
Day 2 – #HellHikeAndRaft Hiking into the shadow of the Devil Part 2
Day 3- #HellHikeAndRaft Hiking into the shadow of the Devil Part 3
Day 4 – Braving the Rapids of Hells Canyon Part 1
Night 4 – Braving the Rapids of Hells Canyon Part 1.5 The Night of the SKUNKS!
Day 5 – Soon To Come
Day 6- Soon To Come


Adam Nutting relishes being an avid backpacker, hiker, and all-around adventure junkie. While he currently spends his time hiking in the backcountry of southern Arizona, he grew up in Missouri, where he was naturally inclined to spend as much time as he could outdoors. Adam’s passion for the outdoors grew as he climbed the ranks of the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, eventually attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

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